Trump May Cost American Farmers $2 Billion In Lost Exports

Trump's threat to toss away NAFTA is troubling American farmers.
04/29/2017 03:56 am ET Updated May 01, 2017

While Donald Trump is bombastic about Mexico dispatching rapists and killers to the USA, American farmers are nervous. The same tactics could be transformative for Argentina’s farmers.

Argentine Farmers Give Away Food to Protest Low Prices

Juan padded into the kitchen in the two-room concrete tenement he shared with Louisa and their children. Tiptoeing through the maze of sleeping children scattered under blankets on the linoleum floor, Juan turned on the stove to heat water for the day’s mate.

The fake-wooden clock on the wall, next to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, said 3:30. The truck loaded, all Juan had to do was kiss his children and walk into the darkness.

Juan struggles as an Argentine farmer. For every two pounds of produce his small farm grows, he may bring home the equivalent of forty-five cents.

This morning, Juan feels fortunate to join other farmers as they give away vegetables to others in Plaza de Mayo — people who are more impoverished than Juan.

Thousands lined up in Plaza de Mayo to get spinach, tomatoes and other produce. Four tons of food was distributed in the plaza fronting Casa Rosada — Argentina’s rendering of The White House. Farmers transformed flowerbeds to vegetable gardens as they sowed lettuce and celery where the pansies and petunias had been.

The Struggle to Survive

In 2015, Argentina’s inflation blew past 40% and is still continuing a steady rise while over a third of the populace live in poverty. That’s official figures. The real numbers could be higher.

Is The Struggle Nearing an End?

Thanks to Trump, the struggle may be nearly over. As Trump continues to rattle sabers over the border wall, Mexico is looking further south. Mexico and Argentina have opened talks which could mean Mexico spending over $2 billion annually with Argentina — money now goes to farmers in Iowa and other corn-producing regions.

With the exception of dairy and poultry, American ag exports travel duty-free to Mexico and Canada. Trump’s threat to toss away NAFTA is troubling American farmers. Trump’s intention could trigger the closing of the food pipeline to its North American neighbors.

The two nations are the second and third-largest importers of American agriculture products. The biggest is China. American agricultural exports to the big-three have risen faster than to other countries. Canada’s import of staples such as corn have quadrupled under NAFTA and quintupled with Mexico.

Trump has beaten the drum persistently as he called the regional treaty a ‘disaster’ for America. America’s farming industry is hanging by a thread, and Washington lobbyists are leading the fight.

“We don’t want to go backward with either Canada or Mexico,” said David Salmonsen, director of congressional relations at the American Farm Bureau. “We don’t want to see tariffs or any new non-tariff barrier.”

In 2016, American sent over $20 billion in agricultural products to Canada — 15% of total American farm exports. Mexico imported $18 billion in 2016 — 15 percent of agricultural exports.

Mexico is reaching out to suppliers in Argentina and is building leverage. A working relationship between Mexico and Argentina is possible — and many experts feel very likely to happen.

In the meantime, farmers in America may have to think about giving away their produce.

Jerry Nelson spends much of his time poking Trump's meth-addled, uneducated fans with a pointy stick and is currently writing a book of muskrat recipes as well as a scrapbook of his favorite death threats. His life's aspiration is to rule the world with an iron fist, or find that sock he's been looking for. Feel free to email him at jandrewnelson2@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments -- or join the million (seriously) or so who follow him on Twitter @Journey_America.

Never far from his Marlboro's and coffee, Jerry is always interested in discussing future writing opportunities.

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